Boston's bins go green

Oscar the Grouch would be proud.

Boston's Mayor Thomas M. Menino has had solar-powered trash cans/compactors installed throughout the city, according to the Boston Globe.

The BigBelly Cordless Compaction System is a rectangular trash can/compactor that looks like a cross between a city mailbox and a newspaper vending machine. Because it compacts the trash it holds, a BigBelly can hold up to 150 gallons, five times more than the average city trash can, before it needs to be emptied.

BigBelly Cordless Compaction System
Credit: Seahorse Power Company

Besides the obvious reduction of smell and mess, less emptying means fewer trips by a city's maintenance workers, who use gas or electric-powered vehicles. The BigBelly machines power their compacting motors with solar energy from photoelectric panels located on top.

Instead of overflowing city trash cans that need emptying as much as 15 times a day, Mayor Menino said, the new trash cans will only need to be emptied once or twice a day.

Fifty BigBelly machines have been installed throughout Boston. The city plans to consider adding more machines, once it has had time to evaluate the cost savings garnered from the savings on energy and labor, in relation to the $4,300 cost for each machine.

Boston in not the only municipality to take an interest in BigBelly machines. Queens, N.Y., and Vancouver, British Columbia, have seen the system's appeal and have begun pilot programs to install them.

The BigBelly was invented by Seahorse Power.

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